By Lorna Baker
Following on from our review of the fascinatingly dark and suspenseful indie ‘Prowler’, we sat down with the trio behind the great Tractorni Productions’ debut feature film: Producer David Stock, Writer/Director Ignacio Maiso and Director of Photography Tim Jolly.
Let’s kick things off with an easy question… right?
LB: Describe your film ‘Prowler’ in five words or less…
STOCK: Zero budget feature filmmaking success (such a producer’s answer…).
MAISO: That is a hard one… those are 5, right? Just joking… let´s try this one: Thriller about redemption and loneliness. Not sure which one I like more though!
JOLLY: A tense, slow-burn indie thriller. I can hyphenate ‘slow-burn’ into one word, right?
LB: Where did your inspiration/ideas for the film come from?
MAISO: I don´t really remember to be honest, we were supposed to shoot our first feature (a different one) and something went wrong two weeks before starting so we just thought about writing something which we could make for sure in 3-4 months’ time from that moment.
JOLLY: Much of my inspiration came from talks with him. We would walk around the London Docklands area location scouting and talking about the story and characters, discussing and acting out scenes ourselves to figure out if a place looked visually like how that character was feeling at that point in the film. The cityscape backdrop and wintery setting very much came from Alex’s emotional state of isolation. We purposefully chose locations for the present-day scenes that set Alex apart from the bustling city, forever looking on it but never allowed to join it.
One specific thing I brought to the table was to identify each character with a colour to help visually represent their psychology, much like Hitchcock did with Vertigo. We gave Gregg, a green hue to suggest an envy and sickness in him that we see manifest in his clothing, but I would mirror this in the lighting too, to hint that his presence is always lingering around Alex. For example, the hallway leading to Alex’s present day flat has a sickly green hue to it, and in the scene where Gregg tells Alex he should be happy and date Lauren, where we end with a face-off between the characters in a hallway; Gregg’s angle has green hues behind him while Alex has cool blue tones... we carefully rehearsed this scene to make sure this would work out.
LB: Why did you choose to reveal the truth behind the killing so early on?
MAISO: Well, I think it makes things more interesting - that way the audience becomes complicit. It´s like sharing a secret with them, and they will wonder about how and when Alex will find out and what will happen then.
LB: What did you enjoy most about filming Prowler?
STOCK: So many things… it was a real thrill to get on set on the first day of shooting to finally see the previous 18 months of prep work come to life – that was a special moment. But I think what I enjoyed most was working with so many committed cast and crew who seemingly had the same vision as us; as this was a collaborative, shared-ownership project, I wasn’t sure what to expect from everybody (especially having not worked with many of them before), but I needn’t have had any reservations. Everyone was brilliant, making the entire process from the first call of ‘action’ to the clink of the first ‘that’s a wrap’ beer incredibly enjoyable.
MAISO: I enjoy everything, the fact of seeing how we were making our first feature (coincidentally was our first feature for most of us cast included!).
JOLLY: It’s down to the amazing cast and crew that we managed to pull it off so I have to honour them for making this such an enjoyable experience. We became like a family during shooting and still talk to each other now. Our producer David is a standout guy and I have to give him the highest praise for pulling everything together and maintaining calm on and off set - I’ve never met anyone so capable of keeping it together; he just took everything in his stride.
LB: What were the main challenges during filming?
STOCK: As we were a small crew, logistics of moving the kit and the set around (particularly for external locations) was tricky which made keeping to the schedule quite a challenge. We were also filming outside in February and March in a particularly cold winter – there were some very cold hands on set! It even snowed one morning which, whilst it looked beautiful on camera, presented a bit of a continuity nightmare for our editor!
JOLLY: We really were operating on a micro-budget on Prowler which means every penny counts and translates to us all wearing multiple hats and forgo the nice extra bits of kit that makes life easier. I was pulling my own focus and helping to write up production schedules for example, and we had very limited equipment but that probably made life easier to be honest as we weren’t faffing around with tracks, Steadicams or big lighting setups.
MAISO: Hmm… not sure if I should answer that question… ;-)
LB: Name a film that has inspired your career…
JOLLY: Well, on Prowler, Ignacio and I would talking about Sidney Lumet’s films like 12 Angry Men and Murder on the Orient Express as well as Fincher’s Gone Girl and others, so I will say that Gone Girl is an inspiration for Prowler among many others.
LB: Now how about a film that is your guilty pleasure? Or one that you can watch again and again?
MAISO: I don´t really have a favourite movie or a guilty pleasure one…
JOLLY: Does the guilty pleasure have to be a ‘bad’ film, because I love watching 12 Angry Men. Otherwise I would say that I enjoy Harry Potter, full in the knowledge that my friends respect for me has just dropped a notch or two.
LB: What is next for you and/or for Tractorni Productions?
MAISO: Well… We finished shooting our second feature a month ago and now we are editing. Also, we are in pre-production of our third one, ‘The Consultant’ which we would like to do next year in March, whilst thinking about starting to raise money for a fourth one called ‘Dummy’ in 2020!
STOCK: As Ignacio said, we’ve just finished filming our second feature film, ‘Them’, which should be completed mid-2019. Ignacio is a filmmaking machine and is going on to make the 3rd film on the slate ‘The Consultant’, in March 2019, whereas I’m now going to sleep for a year…
JOLLY: I shot a feature with writer/director Flavia Casà almost straight after coming off Prowler so I hope that this will be in the world soon. On the Tractorni front, I reunited with Ignacio and the team for ‘Them’ this year which is in post now. Ignacio is a force of nature and is already pushing on with several more films; I on the other hand like to take things one project at a time. I’m currently in prep on an experimental short film and talking to directors about upcoming projects, so watch this space I guess!
Thanks to David, Ignacio and Tim for having a chat to us here at Cineroom, it sounds like it was a challenging and yet thoroughly rewarding shoot!
Don’t forget to check out our review of Prowler to see our thoughts of this intriguing, tense thriller. In the meantime, it looks like it won’t be long until we see more of Stock, Maiso and Jolly and all the team at Tractorni!
Distributed by MY Spotlight Entertainment; Prowler is out for release on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and USA.